Higher Ground Labs

Updates

HGL start-ups arming Dems with tools for the midterms

mirah-curzer-530234-unsplash (1).jpg

The midterms are quickly approaching and political action has never felt more urgent. The events of this past week underscore the importance of this upcoming election and why every vote matters. Across the country, we’re seeing Americans rising to challenge in record numbers. In this cycle so far, there are record voter registration numbers, 20 times more people expressing interest in running for office, and an explosion of women major-party candidates on the 2018 ballot, including an unprecedented number of women running for governor. In addition to increased voter engagement at the national scale, we’ve watched our companies work behind the scenes supporting the progressive campaigns and causes gearing up to fuel a blue wave in the November midterms. From message testing to relational organizing to voter contact, we want to share a snapshot of where our companies are and the impact they’re seeing in the field just one month out.

This year, we’ve seen a surge in companies focused on message testing and content creation - and they are having an impact. Swayable, a 2018 portfolio company, allows campaigns and organizations to run rapid tests of creative content to determine which messages actually move people. They have partnered with early adopters to demonstrate that Democrats can build broader, winning majorities around a strong progressive agenda if we find the right way to listen to how people react to our storytelling. Swayable is working with campaigns and agencies to increase the potential impact of their paid media spend by 100% or more, on average. Their most recent victory was in partnership with NextGen America supporting Andrew Gillum in his upset win in the Democratic primary for Florida governor (where Change Research also predicted an early win).

Many campaigns are crafting their engagement model around relational organizing. Organizers have long believed that outreach is more effective when coming from a trusted voice than from a campaign or candidate. This cycle, we are testing that approach online - and adoption rates are high. Companies like VoterCircle uses a friend-to-friend outreach platform enables supporters of any cause or campaign to utilize their personal address books to identify and connect with eligible voters. Team, the Tuesday Company’s digital and relational organizing app, allows volunteers to choose how they reach out to their friends (text, phone, email, or Facebook message). Team is deployed in every DCCC-targeted congressional race and dozens of other campaign, non-profit, and advocacy organizations. They expect to see tens of thousands of volunteers contacting over one million voters, all of which is will be randomized and tested through a relational organizing grant from the Analyst Institute. Team expects to see over one million voters contacted by the end of the cycle through thousands of volunteers.

We’ve also seen our companies working to transform how voters learn about voter contact and mobilization. Voters have an increasing interested in understanding their options on the ballot before Election Day. This fall, BallotReady launched a nonpartisan voter guide that will be live in all 50 states covering every race and referendum, down to the local level. Not only are voters more informed, but they’re showing up both at the polls and at campaign events. A study with Vote.org in partnership with the Analyst Institute found that texting voters a link to the BallotReady voter guide in Virginia 2017 had the greatest effect on turnout compared to alternative interventions such as social pressure or polling place related text messages. MobilizeAmerica, which provides the tools to organize and activate communities, is working with 430+ campaigns and 590+ progressive organizations like the DCCC, OFA, and Crooked Media to manage more than 20 million+ volunteers and host events across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They have driven drive 250,000 more volunteer shifts than would have happened otherwise, and the numbers are growing.

Political tech is changing how we mobilize, contact and persuade voters in this year’s midterm elections. But ultimately, it’s up to constituents to turn out and support these candidates and campaigns. We encourage you to register to vote ahead of tomorrow’s deadline, and find ways to take action in the last couple of weeks through The Last Weekend, Vote With Me, When We All Vote, and many more. It’s up to us to vote for the change we want to see, and we hope to see you at the polls in November!

Maggie Stohler